AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Tanzania usually gets a fairly good report from Amnesty International but the Annual Report for 1996 was highly critical. Extracts: ‘The authorities in Zanzibar were responsible both before and after the elections for harassment, sometimes violent, of supporters of the Civic United Front (CUF) which was repeatedly denied permits to hold meetings; after the elections hundreds of Pemba islanders working in Zanzibar were dismissed and their houses demolished….criminal charges such as sedition, vagrancy and involvement in acts of violence, often accompanied by the denial of bail for periods of two weeks or more were also used as methods of intimidating government critics and opponents. Scores of anti-government opponents were tortured and ill-treated by police and Anti-Smuggling Unit personnel…including shaving prisoners’ heads with broken glass, spraying prisoners with motor oil and forcing them to eat faeces…

On the mainland in August over 50 gold miners were killed … during evictions from disputed land in an operation involving the police, regional authorities and a Canadian mining company…the men were buried alive when small scale mines were bulldozed in advance of the company taking possession of the mines for industrial mining….criminal investigations appear to have been discontinued.

Amnesty international strongly criticised the government’s decision to impose a 31 December deadline for the return of Rwandese refugees and appealed to the government to ensure protection for refugees who had a wellfounded fear of human rights violations’.

In a strongly worded 16-page response, quoted in the Daily News on August 8, the Government attacked the Amnesty report for being one-sided and derived from hearsay and wild accusations by some disgruntled members of the Tanzanian community. On refugees, Amnesty had blamed Tanzania for arresting seven refugees for engaging in political activities against their state; in doing so Tanzania had been upholding UN regulations. Amnesty had exhibited an absolute lack of appreciation and gratitude for Tanzania’s positive attitude towards refugees and the great efforts made by Tanzanian citizens in handling refugee problems. On Zanzibar the statement said that Amnesty had relied on complaints made by the opposition CIJF party without considering the Mews of the government or ruling party. On the demolition of houses near an electric transformer, Amnesty had not mentioned the sabotage of a key electrical installation that had prompted the removal of people residing in its vicinity. On the Bulyanhulu mines episode in Kahama district, the government said that the story was fabricated. An investigation had reached the conclusion that no one was either intentionally or inadvertently killed in the exercise to stop further exploitation of the mines.

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